The ’90s craze that dominated Super Bowl advertising — there was even a parody of cable guy — is showing signs of bleeding into New York state politics: Some desperate Republicans who think this fall’s gubernatorial election is winnable are begging George Pataki to run again. Hey, he’s three years younger than Joe Biden. And the State Party Nominating Convention meets next Monday and Tuesday.
Pataki, the only Republican elected governor of New York since Nelson Rockefeller, served three terms after being elected in 1994, when his main issue was restoring capital punishment when incumbent Mario Cuomo was seen as soft on crime. Pataki did indeed restore capital punishment, but not a single person was executed in New York before the state’s high court declared it unconstitutional in 2004, much to the shrugs of voters.
Pataki was probably as conservative a Republican as he could hope to be elected in all of New York State (i.e. not very conservative), but the state party is eager to make a flamboyant move by nominating the Long Island Congressman Lee Zeldin, who is both equally conservative and (more importantly) far too tainted by his cheerleading for Donald Trump to win this fall. (Democratic gerrymandering will likely keep Zeldin from staying in Congress.) Accidental Gov. Kathy Hochul broadly backed her party after some initial hints she would struggle to secure the nomination, but she’s not well established. in New York, she’s not particularly good at politics, and a strong (moderate) Republican might give her a hard time. I think the party would be wise to appoint former Westchester County manager Rob Astorino to rival Hochul. (Rudy Giuliani’s son, Andrew, is also a GOP candidate.) If Zeldin is the candidate, the attack ads will write themselves, the election will be a referendum on Donald Trump, and Zeldin will be wiped out. As for Pataki, he did not completely rule out running again when contacted by the New York Postbut he also didn’t seem eager to get back into the game.